Lost fame for a new name

WEHI, (the medical research institution formally known as Walter and Eliza Hall) is running a bus shelter campaign in Melbourne

“We are medical researchers with a vision to tackle the biggest health issues of our time,” is the copy. “Which” a learned reader, suggests WEHI would not need to explain if it had stayed Walter and Eliza Hall – “a well-recognised name for a much-loved brand.”

There’s more in the Mail

In Features this morning

Matt Bower (Macquarie U) and Penny Van Bergen warn the Federal Government has abandoned innovation in learning and teaching. “The need is particularly acute in 2021, with unprecedented upheaval in HE brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and other policy forces,” they write. It’s this week’s piece in Commissioning Editor Sally Kift’s long-celebrated series, Needed now in teaching and learning.”

Plus James Guthrie (Macquarie U) on the corporatisation of public universities – it should stop.

Where UWA wants jobs to go

There are savings proposals in the School of Social Sciences, the library and marketing and student recruitment

The cuts, Vice Chancellor Amit Chakma says are part of his plan to reduce the university’s “structural deficit” from $70m to $40m (CMM September 28, October 19 2020).

“I thank you for staying the course as we work towards our aim of investment in our future,” says Professor Chakma, presumably not referring to those who will be sacked before it is complete.

The new round of reductions include;

School of Social Sciences: the proposal document focuses on suggested under-performance in research and enrolments. Management wants to reconfigure what is taught, and by who (“a combination of leading researchers and teaching-focused academics”) with the staff to student ratio to double to 35.

Overall, 16 continuing academic positions go, with 12 continuing positions changing from teaching and research to teaching-focused. There will be seven new jobs.

Anthropology and Sociology would take an especially hard hit, losing 8 positions of the existing nine and picking up no new ones.

“Flagships” for research will be Australian archaeology and human geography.

Brand, marketing and recruitment: The proposal makes the case for change, by stating what the opposition is doing; “competitors have become increasingly sophisticated using data-driven approaches, targeted activity, marketing automation and tighter task prioritisation to ensure focus on activity that drives performance.”

Some 34 positions are proposed to go, (five now vacant) with 13 new ones created.

Library: The change proposal makes a case for not changing. “The university library has a strong reputation for excellence in the development and delivery of high quality and core services that are well utilised.” So why change? In part it is to, “better service the new college of schools organisational structure.”

Eight jobs are set to go – and four new ones created, it is not clear whether people in any of the four HEW nine positions, will slot into the two HEW nines, one HEW eight and one HEW three being created. And library-watchers wonder the “minor variation to position descriptions” for 24 staff may disguise devilry in the Dewey (sorry).

Uni Wollongong graduations: bigger and later

People due for a ceremony last year will to wait a bit longer

Live and in-person graduations scheduled for July 21-23 were postponed  last Friday, soon after the state government extended the Sydney lockdown, which includes Wollongong, until July16. “Public health orders beyond this date (are) undetermined,” UoW stated – which sounds like the university fears it’s a mortarboard to a brick that the lockdown will last longer.

Bad news for new grads but way worse for those whose ceremonies were postponed last year. And when graduations do occur Uni Wollongong wants to hold them off campus, in either the WIN Entertainment Centre or WIN Stadium to ensure COVID-safe seating.

Nothing says academic grandeur than a 22 000 capacity stadium or 23 000 seat footy-ground but at least there will be plenty of room for graduands’ guests.

Uni Queensland building for the good old days

In happier times the university planned a big CBD expansion, announcing an “iconic building” in the “golden triangle” (Queen and Creek Streets) of Brisbane’s CBD

It would help the university meet demand for executive education, professional development and micro-credentials, then VC Peter Høj said in 2019.

Assuming the days of people turning up for short-courses in-person are not now over, it still will, with the university lodging development plans.

And very impressive they are too – if way more modest than VC Deborah Terry is used to. When VC of Curtin U she announced a $300m development for the Bentley campus, including 1000 student beds, a hotel, 38 apartments, plus commercial and retail space (CMM June 12 2019).

Short and to the point

Study Group, which runs courses for Charles Sturt U, is letting go staff in Sydney go

Unsurprising given the times – but the announcement struck some as abrupt and unkind, especially to long-serving staff, emotionally invested in their work.

“Due to the continuing decline in student enrolments, Study Group will not be able to offer you any further work in the foreseeable future,” it stated. It went out last Tuesday, effective on Friday.

A win for casual Arts academics at Uni Melbourne

After a long campaign there is a prospect of payment for more of the hours they work

Faculty management has varied local operating rules to give subject supervisors discretion on when casual staff can be directed to work. This can mean casuals can be directed, and paid, to attend lectures in courses they are teaching for the first time, where there is more than 50 per cent new course content. They can also receive 12 hours of paid-time for meetings per semester and for up to 24 hours for student-consultation.

This is a substantial win for casuals in arts and an achievement for the campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, which has long campaigned against payment practise in other faculties, including in computing, maths and stats (CMM May 13 2020).

And in Arts, which last year invited sessional staff to request a review of what they had been paid for marking –the faculty had been paying people for marking 4000 words/20 papers an hour, rather than hours worked, (CMM June 29 2020).


Protecting international students: get essays on paper

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is inquiring into a bill to protect critical cyber security infrastructure, which will include all university operations. Matthew Brown (Group of Eight), Catriona Jackson (Universities Australia), Conor King (Innovative Research Universities) and Luke Sheehy (Australian Technology Network) gave evidence Friday afternoon, repeating the substance of submissions – that their members are on-board with the legislation’s intent but there is no need to include absolutely all their operations.

But one which might need to be included, is allowing students from surveillance states to submit essays on paper and not just on politically obvious issues.  Committee chair, Senator James Paterson (Lib-Victoria) suggested, “the Chinese state in particular has a range of sensitivities that you can’t always anticipate and students, I think quite reasonably, have anxieties about electronic submission because some of them come from authoritarian, technological surveillance states and that option might be of comfort to them.”

That the sector is keen to cooperate was perhaps demonstrated by Ms Jackson having to leave the hearing early and by Ms Thomson not making it at all. CMM does not know what was in diaries but the Universities Foreign Interference Taskforce, on which both UA and Go8 have seats, was scheduled to meet Friday pm.

Appointments, achievements

Jenny Beresford (numerous roles including at Swinburne U) is the new CEO of the Council of Australasian University Directors of IT.

 Guy Curtis (UWA) is one of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australia’s 2020 reviewers of the year. A typo in Friday’s issue turned him into Guy Curtin

Natasha Harvey becomes director of the Centre for Cancer Biology at Uni SA. She steps up from a lab head role.

Uni Wollongong announces the VC’s staff awards including,

VC’s Outstanding contribution to teaching and learning: Helen Rienits (Science, Medicine and Health)

Programme award for teaching and learning: Master of Educational Leadership Team, Kylie Lipscombe, Paul Kidson, Sharon Tindall-Ford (all Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities)

Professional services award for teaching and learning: Faissel Tubbal (Engineering and Info Sciences)

Researcher of the year: Jun Chen (AIIM Research Facility)

Emerging researcher: Yunxiao Wang (AIIM Research Facility)

Interdisciplinary research: Project Openability (Karen Walton, Science, Medicine and Health), Alison Bell (Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), Alaster Yoxall (Sheffield Hallam U)

Research Partnership and Impact: Project SMART Recovery: Peter Kelly, Alison Beck  Elizabeth Dale, Briony Larance, Dayle Raftery (all Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) Kathleen Clapham, (Business and Law), Rowena Ivers, (Science, Medicine and Health), Frank Deane (Illawarra Institute for Mental Health), Industry Partners: SMART Recovery Australia and SMART Recovery International

Research supervision: Kristine French (Science, Medicine, Health)

Research supervision for emerging researchers: Thomas Birtchnell (Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities)